NPR

George W. Bush Slams 'Bigotry,' Politics Of Populism That Led To Trump, Sanders

The former president made the remarks at a forum put on by his namesake center. "To renew our country, we only need to remember our values," the 43rd president said.

You might say George W. Bush wants to make America great again.

In remarks Thursday, he criticized the kind of politics, sentiment and populism that led to President Trump's rise and election — though he never named Trump explicitly.

"Bigotry seems emboldened," Bush said in New York at a forum put on by the George W. Bush Institute. "Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication."

He slammed a discourse that seems "degraded by casual cruelty," disagreement that "escalates into dehumanization" and a "nationalism distorted into nativism."

Bush, however, also criticized the kind of liberal populism that led to Bernie Sanders' rise on the left.

"There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned, especially among the young who never experienced the galvanizing moral clarity of the Cold War or never focused on the ruin of entire nations by Socialist central planning," Bush said. "Some have called that democratic deconsolidation. Merely it seems to be a combination of weariness, frayed tempers and forgetfulness."

After leaving office, the 43rd president mostly stayed out of politics. He was unpopular and was being replaced by someone whose election could have been seen as a rebuke to his presidency. Former President Barack Obama, his successor of a different party, had a very different worldview than

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR6 min read
After Grim Deaths In The Borderlands, An Effort To Find Out Who Migrants Were
More than 200 migrants die attempting to cross the Southwest border each year. Slowly, scientists at a Texas laboratory are seeking the story of their bones.
NPR4 min readPolitics
'Unfreedom Of The Press' Is Full Of Bombast And Bile
Right-wing Fox host Mark Levin conducts no interviews and offers no original research in his book; it is little more than a free gift with purchase: People are instead buying his message to the media.
NPR5 min read
Who's On NPR?
Distinguishing whether content comes from NPR or others is not always easy. Here's a quick guide.